After what seemed to pass like a mere few months, suddenly my first year of BA Animation is finished! But it won't be truly complete without finishing the two deferred things I facked up in semester 1. I won't pass if I don't do them, so here they are now two spaces below this piece of text:
2000 WORD ESSAY:
"It could be argued that whilst Live Action Film is a Modernist art-form, Animation is Post-Modernist. Do you agree?" What I find confusing about this is that it's not exactly a yes or no question. Granted that from the beginning, Animation set itself out as a display of the graphic potential that could be achieved (a love affair of surface/spectacle over serious narrative structure), and has the capability to defy reality without the need to constrict itself to realistic boundaries all the time; all traits of Post-Modernism. Over the last century, Animation has grown, burst out of its cocoon, and spread wings of newly-found sophistication. And with that, Animation started to become Animated Film-making, and would eventually become an asset to Live-Action.
Take for example, Ralph Bakshi's work. After animating and directing for Terrytoons, he became sick and tired of the same conventional hoo-haa, so he quit and went the complete opposite direction. An already unconventional move, Bakshi prised the property from R. Crumb's hands to make 'Fritz the Cat' (1972), the first X-rated animated feature film made in the English language (which then led to re-distribution of the first ever so-called X-rated film in 1970, 'Cleopatra', co-directed by Osamu Tezuka and Eiichi Yamamoto). Cradled by the streets and cultures of New York, Bakshi's storytelling is consistently down-to-earth and never hesitates to not pull any punches to show us that this is how it is. Combining children's style animation with the context of 60's drug culture, sex, violence, revolt must have unsettled audiences, thus being controversial. Eventually it led to Crumb killing off Fritz in his comic, because he didn't want to be associated with the animated Fritz that he didn't want to make. Indeed, the acts shown in Fritz would be considered tame compared with what we consider to be X-rated today (need I mention the "H-word"?).
What I thought would be a good idea to focus on was the film Mr. B made after Fritz: 'Heavy Traffic'. At the moment, it's region 1 only (nothing the internet can't solve), and controversial as ever! Heavy Traffic is part autobiographical, part drug-fuelled craziness, a combination of live-action and animation set in underground New York. The narrative is on Mike, an artist whose mother is Jewish, and whose father is an Italian working for the Mafia. The Jewish mother absolutely despises her Italian husband, stuff goes down, then Mike simply says, "Papa's alright." The film works between him and live action Mike who is playing on a pinball machine, in an act of, ahem...... SYMBOLISMMM!!!11!1!!!)!u1(*0 So in the animated world, Mike comes across a variety of vivid and interesting characters, in a rather episodic fashion, almost like everyday life. Though that aspect may be problematic, because regular reality is considered boring in comparison with theatrical reality. Along with Fritz and other future films including 'Coonskin' and 'Hey, Good Lookin', there's plenty of sex, drugs, violence, explicit actions as you'd expect with any Bakshi film. So that's an example of how Animation can be on an unclear spot between Modernism and Post-Modernism, I suppose.
However, I'm still a little confused about what makes something modernist or post-modernist. From what I gather, Modernism concerns works of art and things that carry behind them a mass of serious ideologies made in order to streamline technological determinism, in defiance of the mundane aesthetics of art-nouveau, classical paintings, and to show great optimism for the future that lies ahead. Post-Modernism, on the other foot, actively defies Modernism in that it only appears to bear one ideology: simply to entertain. Post-Modernism acknowledges that there is a means to an end, therefore treating itself like a throwaway consumer item instead of an historical artefact set in stone. Essentially, they just wanna party hard to the very end, without giving a ratz about realism or serious narrative integrity. The main theme of post-modernism seems to be an over-dependence on surface and spectacle, often incorporating intertextuality to its palette of what it considers to be hip/cool humour. Now it's starting to get a little tired.
Take for instance, 'Quest for Camelot', where the pop-culture references created a major disservice to the epic operatic quality of the story, on top of the many other flaws I found in it (so obvious, you can see them in the film without me having to tell you). The talking Siamese Dragons sing a big musical number referencing modern television and music such as Elvis in an Arthurian setting. Just like Disney Aladdin's Genie, except that it does not make any sense, if the dragons do not seem to possess any time-travelling abilities to have been able to make references to such things. And what's more insane is that the human characters are none the wiser to their epileptic light show of the future being shoved in their faces, and just move on without questioning anything about what they just witnessed (Remind you of anything familiar? www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJRBPl…). The other problematic post-modernist pop comes out of the Axe Chicken once he suddenly decided he was going to *beeeeepzomgspoilers!*, "Do I feel CLUCKY!?"(youtu.be/F3ZGK7Zzu7g?t=39s!) What the hell!? If you wanted to subvert this story further, you might as well have referenced Die Hard for crying out loud! "Chickee-kayay, mother-clucker!"
But 'Camelot' isn't the main thing I wanted to do. One of the things I'd like to do is cross-examine Ralph Bakshi's 'Heavy Traffic' and Justin Kerrigan's 'Human Traffic', in terms of differences between modernism, post-modernism, etc... 'Human Traffic' was made by someone who studied film and video at the same University of Wales, Newport (where I'm studying right now), and based his story on the acid nightclub culture. So here's the story: A group of quirky adults go on a drug-frenzied weekend in Cardiff, and come out the other end, feeling slightly refreshed afterwards. That's about it. Danny Dyer cast the first stone of Post-Modernism by breaking the fourth wall in the very first scene. It begins to show that Film-making could be as wacky an Animation, whilst Animation could be as civilised as Film-making. Sort of a role-reversal, there.
Yeah, so that's all I'm going to churn out on the subject for now. On to the next priority.
A short loop of Animation played through mechanisms instead of screens. The project was designed to be a challenge for us, and to see what we were capable of creating in the amount of time and range of resources given. Problems including getting the mechanism to work with the animation, under-developed ideas, and time-management issues were the main downfall of my first attempt at this. My design was initially too ambitious or awkward to pull off, as I opted for the animation to play vertically instead of like a normal Zoetrope, and have the image projected onto a wall. Because the light I scrambled to find wasn't concetrated enough to see it clearly, and the strip of painted on acetate I used was just a moving image (not real animation), I must now go back to the drawing board and think of something else. I can't just make up any old animation for my Automaton. It must be based on a chosen manifesto. Caroline gave us a list of suitors, including Dada, Surrealist, Abstract Expressionism and Bruce Mau design. I chose Surrealism for my first try, but it didn't communicate that aspect very well. As for the physical design, I recently had the idea of seeing two different images on each eye by placing two animated loops together. Instead of having the light shine through the material, it would shine on it. And I'm considering using textiles for making the loops on. The Automaton device is expected to look pretty as well, and show the theme of what the manifesto is getting across in the work. It's a good thing my family owns a garage and plenty of tools, then....
I was recently commissioned to work on 2D Animation for this guy's film, which I'm going to keep hush-hush about for now. It's all been exciting, loads of people sending me things through email, and it seems to be coming along nicely. It'll be great to see the final outcome once it's finished. Another animation-related thing I worked for was a short film by Kim Noce, as part of Newport Animation's 'Animator in Residence' scheme. My work consisted of acting out scenarios then walking and running on four legs being filmed on green screen. Another film I'm eager to see finished.
During the critique of my Character Animation, Matthew Gravelle (tutor) suggested that the summer holidays are a perfect opportunity to improve on my observational drawing skills, which was the weak point of the project I handed in and got a C for. Everyone's been saying to me that C is a very good grade, but I see it a very boring grade. That's why this time taken to practice will be invaluable to me and for the benefit of my animations.
Something completely different, I have a new bunch of ideas for Sonic Shorts (Yes, I'm still trying). Involving the Slicer pulling a juggling act with its knifes, Sonic's head shaped similar to a balloon, and a bat credit card being offered to Rouge in the Chao Black Market. I'm not crossing my fingers for this, seeing as the I've been rejected a number of times. But hey! Still worth a shot.
Oh, and I went to London MCM in May. Fantastic experience, and the cosplay was the best part of it as usual... Got my Futurama 5 DVD signed by Billy West, and got Maurice LaMarche's signature on a ready-made Pinky and the Brain picture. In my best Stimpy voice: Joooy! Also met the Gagaman () for the first time at his shared stall with Stacey (). Only disappointment was after taking the train back from London, when I stupidly left an anime poster next to a bank-machine and it got stolen. Thanks, Newport. That's £13 I'm never going to get back. But in fairness, I'm not the sort of person to hang a Haruhi poster on my bedroom wall. Next time, the Newport 'Anime, Manga & Japanese Culture Society' that I'm a member of, will be going to the October Expo. One of them is expected to cosplay, and I'm considering dabbling in a bit of cosplay myself. I could either dress-up as a Nyan Cat and offer free hugs, or do an embarrassing cross-dress, like Cardcaptor Sakura, or Yui, or something....
In conclusion a summer of fun and bloody hard work!
- Listening to: Random stuff on my iTunes...
- Playing: Ocarina of Time 3D (aw yeeeeeah!)
- Drinking: Coke and Coke-oriented products